Dreams have been on my mind lately. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of equality; our founding fathers’ dream of a government of, by, and for the people; and the dreams of little girls who want to grow up to be president of the United States of America.
Some dreams have a fairytale like quality where they feel grand, pure and wondrous. I think this comes from our habit of imagining the joy and pleasure that would result from a dream come true. In this euphoric idealization, so many of us forget to think about what it really takes to make dreams a reality.
Dr. King painted an eloquent and noble picture of a society that values equality, be he was not naïve. He fought discrimination, injustice and hatred in every step toward his dream. Our founding fathers built an experimental framework for government that would give the people unprecedented power and freedom, but they were not starry-eyed. They staked their lives and fortunes on this new government with no certainty that it would function. Vice President Kamala Harris was recently inaugurated into the highest office any female has ever held, but she is not without battle scars. She has labored to build a reputation of competence to overcome prejudices that exist around her race and gender.
Dreams are so much more than regular goals or accomplishments; they are built on hope and grow in the heart and mind of the dreamer. In fact, the definition of a dream is a cherished aspiration, ambition or ideal.
Earlier this month, I had a dream come true. I received the top recognition in the American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers & Ranchers Excellence in Agriculture competition. This is the equivalent of winning a national championship in sports except it was for my work as a Farm Bureau leader and overall advancement of the agriculture industry.
When most people learn of my achievement, they are not very interested in discussing the important impacts I have made in my industry and community or how humbled I am to have been recognized among a field of talented young agriculture leaders doing great things in their communities across the country. People instead want to talk about the new Ford truck I won as a prize because they imagine how great it would be for them to win a truck. I am grateful for the truck, but it was not the real motivation of my efforts.
That cherished nature in our dreams makes us particularly vulnerable to the effects of plagiarism and distortion to those dreams. We can all benefit from recognizing that we should not try to make someone else’s dream our own aspirations, ambitions or ideals.
As you encounter humans around you, keep in mind that their dreams are personal and valuable. Do not claim other’s causes unless you are committed to live for them in your life or assume that all dreams are made in your image. Conversely, you should applaud others who are achieving great things; they have worked hard joy is merited.
As for your own dreams, I urge you to pursue them courageously like the founding fathers, virtuously like Dr. King, tenaciously like Vice President Harris and with the unbridled hope that comes from the passion of our hearts. We all can’t wait to see you succeed.